I’ve now installed Ubuntu on my old laptop. Wow. Linux has come a long way in the past 3 years. That’s how long its been since I had a Linux system. My last was a homebuilt desktop running Red Hat 9. I ditched it when Fedora came out, and haven’t messed with Linux since. Ubuntu just rocks.
I planned to document the steps that I had to go through to get it successfully installed, for the benefit of others. I even had my pen and paper out. But, I had underestimated the installation process, it was so simple that it wasn’t worth noting the steps. I’m confident that any average PC user could do this.
I’ve installed Windows hundreds of times over the years. And, I’ve installed various versions of Linux dozens of times in the past as well. Windows isn’t difficult, but you do kind of have to know what you’re doing. Linux was a little more painful, mostly because of network settings and installing applications. Which, is why I planned to document this experience for others.
Ubuntu was the easiest O/S I’ve ever installed. The hardest part was getting my system to boot to CD, which has nothing to do with the O/S. Yahoo! saved me, I did a web search and found Bootable CD Loader, created the floppy and booted right to the CD. I only had to answer 5 questions, and it was fast. I mean my Mom could have installed it.
After I got it up and running, I checked out the applications, and it comes with pretty much everything right out of the box. Browser, email client, office suite, games, media player. The system is pretty fast (my laptop has 256Mb of RAM), and the desktop is gorgeous. The GUI is fantastic.
My next task was to install wireless. I was expecting a nightmare. And once again, it was a snap. Here’s what I did, I inserted the card. Ubuntu picked it up, loaded the drivers, started the required services and found our router, all without any interaction from me.
The only tricky part was getting DVD’s to play. I don’t normally watch movies on my computer, but wanted to configure this for the sake of completeness. Before they would play properly, I had to install, in this order, universe & multiverse (explained here), libdvdread3 (explained here), and libdvdcss2 (explained here). That resolved everything so that DVD’s would play, but I went ahead and installed xine-ui also. All of the HOWTO’s that I reference here worked properly for me, so it was a simple process.
One thing of note is that I tried to get DVD’s to play with VLC, and that did not work for me. I couldn’t get one of the file dependencies worked out. I read in forums that others were having the same problems, so switched to getting xine running properly, and that’s what did the trick for me.
So, since this is supposed to be for the benefit of others, I installed Ubuntu 6.06 on a Dell Inspiron 7500. And everything just works. I’ve tested each of these things, and they’re functioning properly: touch pad, wireless, hibernating, burning CDs, playing music CDs, working with USB devices, playing DVD’s, and the battery level indicator. With the exception of DVD playback noted above, there was no configuration involved, Ubuntu accurately detected and configured almost everything.
I just can’t express how impressed I am by how far Linux has come in the past 3 years. I used to think that it would never be a good fit for a desktop system, but this has been a very pleasant experience. I just read in the news this week that Bill Gates is stepping down from his daily role in Microsoft operations. Perhaps he’s experimented with Ubuntu also. Its pretty tough to compete with free, when it works this well.